How I use Dubsado in my business
This year has been the biggest year of growth in my business to date.
In past years, I operated with a fairly chilled approach in regards to timelines (“no rush from me, take as long as you need”) as I only had a small client roster of big one-off projects. This all came to a head this year- my previously ‘freelancing on the side’ workload grew into a full-fledged business (yay ?) and it became clear that I could no longer run my business through email alone.
On realising that my processes were all in need of an upgrade I turned to Dubsado, a content management system (CMS) that I knew several of my service provider biz mates swore by. Five months since joining, I’m still shocked at how I ever ran a business without it! It can be an intimidating beast so I’ve put together this overview explaining how I use it day to day to improve my business.
Full disclosure: I am no expert. Dubsado has so many applications and I know full well I’m using only a small selection of its features. I’m a big believer in learning how things work before automating them (and making your clients use them!) so I’ve purposefully kept my set-up fairly manual. Don’t fear- I’ve set aside a chunk of early next year dedicated to refining my workflows and making my business run even more efficiently. While there are endless “How I use Dubsado” articles out there, I’m creating this for the newcomers who have absolutely no idea where to start.
*This post contains affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on my site at no additional cost to you.
So, what can you DO with Dubsado?
Honestly, so much more than I realised when I made the jump. While there are endless ways to utilise the platform, some of my favourite things are:
- Lead Capture and Management
- Contract and Invoice management (send, sign and receive payment without drama!)
- Interactive forms, questionnaires and proposals
- Appointment Scheduler
- Email Integration (with canned emails)
- Workflow Automation
Let’s jump into things, shall we? Here’s the most used parts of Dubsado in my business.
Lead Capture and Management
As a small business (with relatively few clients), I was able to forgo this for a long time. But with Dubsado, my growing number of inquiries is a lot easier to manage!
On completing the contact form on my website (set-up using Dubsado), the details (name, business name, contact details etc) of potential clients are conveniently compiled and organised in the one project lead tab. I’ve got all the info I need on hand to respond and with the ability to set up automatic triggers (eg. sending your information or pricing kit), the first impression you make is streamlined and projects confidence to your clients.
Contract and Invoice management
This was the biggest element I needed help with and the reason I invested in Dubsado! While preparing my most recent tax return, I realised I had totally missed a small invoice that had gone unpaid ?
Dubsado makes sending contracts (and having them signed) so easy for all parties. I have contracts set up for my different services (eg. Brand Identity design, Shopify design, Packaging design etc) so after defining the project scope, it’s super easy to apply my legals to each project. Bonus Tip- I use Foundd Legal as the basis for my contracts, check them out!
Invoicing is also A BREEZE. I love that you can set up different payment plans (Multiple payments = better cashflow! Larger breakdowns = less international transfer fees!) to best suit your clients’ needs. There’s also the ability to set up automated reminder emails which have been a gamechanger– I’ve had many invoices be paid on the “3-day reminder” email, several clients remarking how handy it was for them.
While I personally prefer direct transfer (because there are fewer fees for my clients), you CAN also set up payments via PayPal or Stripe which makes paying your invoice as easy as pressing a button. The dream!
Interactive forms, questionnaires and proposals
I’d say this is what Dubsado is best known for, and for good reason!
You can easily set up core templates that (via Smart Fields) are easily customisable to each clients’ business. This means my proposal document and contract are pre-populated with all the essential details without any fuss, allowing me to get my documents sent out ASAP. I particularly love how proposals are grouped with a contract AND first invoice (if you so choose)- it not only makes for a great customer experience but also helps potentially collaborators see an overview of the things at once.
I also use the questionnaire form for gathering information- I use it as part of my Shopify Design onboarding process and also for gathering feedback and testimonials.
Even though it’s still in beta, the scheduler function is one of my most used elements of Dubsado. Similar to Calendly, the scheduler syncs to your calendar and enables you to send invitations to clients (or potential clients!) to book a meeting. Payment systems are also available (for paid consultations) and you can set it up to be as flexible as you need. For example, I only allow bookings to occur within a 30 day window (otherwise it’s too far in advance!), with three days notice minimum and only two meetings per day possible. Being able to schedule ‘meeting hours’ is so beneficial (in an organisation sense) to a brain like mine who works best with large blocks of uninterrupted deep focus time.
Email Integration (with canned emails)
Dubsado allows you to run your emails via it’s platform and, while it’s handy for keeping things organised, I personally BCC all of my client emails (reminder and otherwise) to my apple inbox as I find it easier to manage. That being said, if you suffer from email anxiety (“ I know the lead isn’t a good fit but I’m scared to tell them”), you will LOVE Dubsado’s canned email function. Save as many email templates as your heart desires (mine include gifs ?) and include smart fields. You’ll be shocked at how much time you save from typing out the same response for similar emails between clients. While I personally don’t automate my emails (I always like to approve and tweak before they go out), I still find having a starting point means so helpful- I no longer forget to include important information or links and my brand voice is more consistent.
While I (currently) don’t take full advantage of this function (I know, I know!!), it’s one of the biggest ways to make your business more efficient. You can set up workflows where the same process always happens (eg. you always send you a contract and invoice, followed by a particular questionnaire) to help save time and streamline your interactions. Dubsado also integrates with other apps via Zapier (eg. Harvest, Asana, Flodesk) to help link all of your systems together which makes for less manual to-dos on your list.
Try it for FREE
Click here or use my code ‘obscurio’ to receive 20% off your first month or year of Dubsado (I opted for a year when signing up to maximize the savings). Black Friday is the perfect time to join- pricing is due to rise but signing up now locks in the existing price WITH a discount.
Search and Grow’s Dubsado template
Out of the box, the proposal templates from Dubsado are a little clunky (without extensive code-based styling). I had a few recommendations for the Neue template by Search and Grow which is a no-code-needed solution for making your proposals, contracts questionnaires and lead captures look SO much better. The proposals end up looking like mini websites (hello, paralax!) and (as a designer), I feel more confident sending these to clients.
As I’m planning an overhaul to my visuals next year, I haven’t used these to their max potential but it’s so good to know that even with new brand assets, it’s just as easy to re-use the code builder to create something beautiful.
Dubsado’s Setup Series on YouTube
Dubsado has a lot of great resources (their customer service is speedy too, from experience!) but I found their four-lesson startup series not too overwhelming as a launchpad-
I’m honestly unsure how I managed to balance the logistics of running a business for so long without Dubsado. While it’s not going to magically make your business more successful or stress-free (soz), it’s a game changer for freeing up mental space and abolishing the “oh god did I remember to reply to that?!” 2am thoughts.
I also haven’t touched on features such as reporting (integrations with Xero, how GOOD), task lists, client portals or time trackers as truthfully, I don’t use them. But it’s nice knowing they’re there when I next change up my system.
Full disclosure- this isn’t my first rodeo in the Dubsado ring. A few years ago (when my client load was significantly smaller), I signed up for a few months to see how it could help my manage my business. Having never taken the time to set it up correctly (and with a more manageable number of clients), the value wasn’t there for me and I ceased my subscription. In hindsight, I wish I had taken the time to map out every single step of my process and (using a test profile), do the whole process from start to finish. I did this when setting up my Dubsado experience 2.0 and it really helped me work out any missing links and made me all the more confident of “when X happens, Y is next” thinking.
I hope this article has been a good ‘introduction’ and shows how a fairly chaotic individual can create organisation in their biz. If you’re particularly curious about a certain element of Dubsado, feel free to email me here and I’ll do my best to show and tell.